- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Americans awoke yesterday to the first all-out assault by evil in the 21st century, drawing comparisons to the "day of infamy" of the last century, Japan's Dec. 7, 1941, sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.
"This is much more dastardly than the Pearl Harbor attack, which was carried out against military targets and against people who could defend themselves," said Angelo Codevilla, professor of international relations at Boston University and author of the textbook "War: Ends and Means."
This was different — a Tom Clancy novel turned horribly real, with fiery death and destruction suddenly striking the centers of American commerce and government, exposing the nation's vulnerability to international terror.
"This time it was against utterly defenseless people," Mr. Codevilla said. "Unless our government wages war with all its means against anyone who would do these acts or condone them, the United States government has lost its legitimacy or right to exist. This is the ultimate challenge."
The unprecedented terrorist assaults are of historic significance, William J. Bennett said.
"It's a day that evil advanced and struck deep at the twin symbols of American power — the government and the military-industrial complex," said Mr. Bennett, former education secretary and co-founder of Empower America, a Washington think tank.
The devastation — broadcast live on morning television newscasts — at first left Americans in a state of stunned disbelief. Then the nation seemed to unite in a collective outrage not seen in decades.
As in times of crisis throughout its history, America sought refuge in religious faith. Saying that "these unspeakable acts of brutality strike at the very heart of our free society," the Rev. Billy Graham issued a statement urging Americans to pray and pay heed to the words of Psalm 46: "Be still and know that I am God. The Lord of hosts is with us."
The blasts in New York and Washington swept aside partisan differences, as lawmakers united to condemn the attacks as "cowardly" and "barbaric," even joining to sing "God Bless America" on the Capitol steps. Former President Bill Clinton said "the people of America are completely, 100 percent united" behind Mr. Bush.
"Pearl Harbor generated a national consensus that we had to win World War II," said Lawrence Eagleburger, former secretary of state. "We all came together as a result. This is the same kind of situation in that respect, but with different enemies.
"We have to act against terrorists and governments that harbor them, and if that means military action, so be it," Mr. Eagleburger said. "If we don't deal them a blow right now, it will get much worse for us."
If the kamikaze hijackers who crashed airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon wished to send America a message, conservative activist David Horowitz said, the message is: "America is soft. America is in denial. America is embarrassed at the idea that it has enemies and must protect itself. America has been so eager to cash in on 'peace dividends' that it has stripped itself of even prudent defenses."
Like the attack on Pearl Harbor, said Mr. Horowitz, founder of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, yesterday's attacks mean "this country is at war, and we are far behind in securing our citizens' safety and preparing for our defense."
In reaction to the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor, thousands of Japanese-American citizens were rounded up into internment camps. Some worry that the reaction to yesterday's terrorism might lead to similar infringements of America's civil liberties.
"I hope that it is not going to be the case that we end up restricting our own liberties as a defense against our enemies," said Balint Vazsonyi, director of the Center for American Founding.
"I hope we find a way to restrict the civil liberties not of Americans but of those who come to these shores to do mischief," Mr. Vazsonyi said. "We need a far more careful screening of people who wish to enter this country."
Mr. Codevilla sees similar dangers: "If the government is afraid to wage war against America's enemies, it will end up waging war against the American people, with security measures that amount to war against the American people," he said.
Those closest to yesterday's carnage spoke of the huge personal impact of the historic attacks.
"I'm traumatized for life," said Clemant Lewis, a Manhattan banker who watched from his office across the street as people jumped from the 80th story before the World Trade Center collapsed. "Somebody needs to take responsibility for this. We should have seen this coming. I'm disgusted."


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